LET ME COUNT THE WAYS
by Lynn Barber
About 15 years ago, a non-birding friend (yes, I have some of those) asked me why I like to go watch birds so much. I guess it was something I had never thought much about and I did not have a very good answer for her. I just knew that I loved it. Her question got me thinking then, and I’m still trying to answer her question for myself.
It is true that I count things, lots of things, and make lots of lists and I always have. Not just birds. When I was a little kid, I kept detailed lists of movies seen by our family when we went to the drive-in (we didn’t have television and we didn’t go to indoor movies ever). I grew out of making most of these lists, but not the bird listing. The bird listing love just grew and grew, and of course, led to my making annual bird lists, which of course, led to my love of doing big years.
Making lists, in itself, hasn’t been enough to keep me going on the other types of lists. There must be other reasons that I watch birds, though, and when I take the time to think much about it I know that there are, many of them.
In no particular order, I have given the reasons below that I can think of that make birdwatching/birding such a wonderful way to spend time, lots of time. I am sure that at least some of these will resonate with you, and I’m also sure that you can think of others. I’d like to learn your reasons too because they may be something that is true for me but I haven’t yet realized.
**Watching birds is a wonderful excuse for me to be outdoors
**Bird watching can be done at almost any time, whether I am alone or with other bird people
**There are birds almost anywhere I might go
**Birding can allow me to escape from the daily stuff or from especially bad things that are going on
**Birds are beautiful and interesting to watch
**Birds fly and I don’t
**Birding can be difficult and challenging, both to locate the birds and to get to where they might be
**Birding gives me a reason to see many sunrises
**Birds give me wonderful subject matter for photography and painting
**Looking for birds keeps me awake when I’m driving somewhere (usually on my way to find birds)
**Doing annual bird lists allows a new beginning each year
**Doing state, county and bird yard lists means that wherever I go I can be trying to add to at least one list
**The more that I watch birds, the more I appreciate environmental diversity and realize the need to protect and preserve the different environments
**Birding allows me to participate in citizen science, as in Breeding Bird Surveys and Christmas Bird Counts
**Birding with others allows me to find friends who may differ from me in their world views
**Birding with others allows me to find friend who agree with me in their world views
**Birding knowledge gives me a topic to talk to others about, such as garden clubs, scouts…
**Being an uncloseted birder gives others an easy way to figure out what to give me when the want to give me gifts
**Being a traveling birder gives me much time to plan my next bird trip, my life, my next blog article, etc.
**Birding often allows me to experience the thrill of the hunt
**Having birding experiences gives me something to write about
**As my mother once said to me when I complained about how birding was such an obsessive habit with me, “At least a birding habit isn’t harmful to others”.
PS. I suppose someday I could do a (hopefully shorter) list of why I should NOT be a birder, but I probably won’t.
PPS. As a lister, it occurs to me that I should make a list of the times that I have tried to put together a list of why I like to bird, but I probably won’t do that either.
Also, being a birder allows me to see more Snowy Owls, such as this one that I saw since my last blog post about Snowy Owls: